Saturday, January 16, 2010

It's Not About the Technology

Like last week, we take you to a post (just click on the title found later in this post) by Kelly Hines, a 5th grade teacher and technology specialist in North Carolina. Please read her article and the comments that have been left for her. At the end of the comments you will see a long list of comments left by students in EDM310. After you have read It's Not About the Technology, and left a comment for Ms. Hines, please return here and leave us a comment as well.

Ms. Hines had a Skype session with EDM310 Thursday February 17. It was an excellent discussion which I think you would find very interesting. Clicl here for Ms. Kelly Hines Skype Conversation with EDM310.

The questions are the same:

1. To what extent do you accept the implicit and/or explicit arguments of this blog post?
2. Are there any implications that you can identify for the College of Education and/or the courses you teach?
3. If we were to attempt to meet the future technological needs of our students, what assistance would you need?
4. Any other comments you would like to make.

Thank you!


  1. As a 32-year veteran educator, I have learned through experience that Ms. Hines’ comments have held true since I entered the profession in 1978. It has never been about what is new on the scene or the latest and greatest ideas that will improve student achievement. I have watched many “saviors” of students come and go over the past three decades. Some are in the form of educational reformers that have ideas and theories that are the answer to our educational woes; others have been in the form of programs that will cure all students’ deficits. The bottom line is that it is not about ideas, theories, programs—and now technology; it is about an effective teacher.

    Technology, as with any other tool, is only as good as the hands of the teacher it is placed in and, if that teacher uses it in effective ways, students will benefit. If not, as Ms. Hines states, it is a waste of time and money. I saw this during my years as a classroom teacher and elementary principal in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and I see it today as a university faculty member when I visit classrooms.

    Ms. Hart’s “list of four things that every teacher must recognize in order to effectively and positively impact students in a new generation of learning” could have been written thirty years ago with a couple of changes. Numbers one and two could remain the same with the century number changed to 20th in number two. Number three could have stated that “Everything is useless without good teaching and number four might have said “Be a 20th Century Teacher without the media resources” referring to cassette tape recorders, overhead projectors, film and filmstrip projectors. These were the things we begged for back in the day!

    I believe it should be a top priority to place our preservice students in effective teachers’ classrooms for all clinical experiences. This is a huge challenge due to the large number of placements we require every semester; however, if we don’t view these placements as one of the major components of our program, we are creating teachers whom have had poor models from which to learn their craft. How can we be surprised if they end up being ineffective if all they have had as their mentors were the teachers who did not live by the four practices Ms. Hart talks about? If they are with effective teachers who understand how to use technology in effective ways that enhance teaching and learning, they will be very well prepared to do this in their future classrooms.

  2. Leah,
    I enjoy reading your posts and reflections on the blog entries. As an "Infusing Technology Across the Curriculum" committee member, I thank you for participating. I agree with your sentiments so rather than preaching to our choir, I will add some additional resources I have recently discovered here.

    A new version of a YouTube in an old format...
    A Vision of 21st Century Teachers

    Also, a wiki with a good number of "21st Century Tools"

    Last, but not least:
    Temple Grandin, diagnosed with autism as a child, talks about how her
    mind works -- sharing her ability to "think in pictures," which helps
    her solve problems that neurotypical brains might miss. She makes the
    case that the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual
    thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart
    geeky kids. So good i posted it at my blog.

    Twitter is my new favorite resource for professional development...its all about who you "follow." If not doing so already, I suggest you check it out.

    Just started reading: The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education by Diane Ravitch..VERY INTERESTING and will be available for loan soon.


  3. Paige--and Committee,
    Paige: Thank you for your comments and additional resources! I will be sure to look at those.

    Committee: I had to come back to this blog and post again because I have been reading my threaded discussions from my RED 451 Reading in the Content Areas class. These are secondary majors in their methods block and they are spending a lot of time in field placements as they get ready to student teach in the fall.

    I have cut and pasted two comments from two different students below. The first was with a very effective teacher, and you can see from her comment how much of a difference this is making regarding her enthusiasm for her future profession. The second is talking about the placement she is in now at a high school and she is, obviously, with an ineffective teacher. Their comments go right along with my first post to this blog. I had to add the first paragraph from what student #1 said because she is responding to a video I had them watch called "Stupid in America." She really gets it that it is all about the "teacher."

    Student #1---Student who was with an effective teacher:
    I have a ton to say about the video, but I will try and keep it short. For the most part I agreed with the video. It is not about how much money is spent on education but where the money goes. Tenure sometimes allows teachers to neglect their duty as educators. It is the teachers that make the difference in the classroom not the technology or the
    resources (however they are helpful).

    My week in the school was amazing. I was at Davidson and had one of the best teachers I have ever seen. I learned so much and am so grateful I was placed with her. I miss the kids so much. My first lesson wasn't
    that good but I seemed to improve the more I taught. I think the children really liked SOME of the activities I did with them.

    Student #2--Student who is with an ineffective teacher:
    I’m in a high school placement and I’m honestly appalled at what I see. I’ve observed three different teachers and they don’t seem to think what they teach is important so why would the student. The sad thing is, this is the system I put my daughter in because I thought it was better.
    She’s only in second grade and I’m in a high school, but I don’t want her taught by teachers who seem like they’ve given up. They are glorified power point presenters. Half the period the teacher just reads
    off a power point, the rest of the period the students goof off. These are all fairly young teachers, too. All this training that we receive is wonderful-- yet I see none of it.
    I know I’ve only been there two days but I’ve been able to observe 3 teachers and I see the same thing in every class. The students are
    allowed to have their ipods and psp and cell phones. The teachers say they have no backing from the administration. It’s all about who you know and if the kids parents are important they get in no trouble. It’s
    culture shock and I don’t want to be that kind of teacher. I hope I never get to a point where I just give up.

  4. Ms. Hines is correct, unfortunately. The points made in "It's Not About the Technology" leave me with a great sense of frustration. As a student teaching supervisor, I have the opportunity to observe, not only student teachers, but the culture of the classrooms to which they are assigned. I do see the interactive whiteboards (do they really cost $5,000 each???), but they are often used as glorified chalk boards. In other words, the way they are used is no different from traditional teaching methods. When I stress to my student teachers that they need to incorporate technology into their lessons, it is often just an add-on. There are also times in which technology IS used when in fact, it is not the best choice in terms of delivering instruction. My suggestion is that teachers need more in-service opportunities until technology becomes a seamless part of instruction and our COE students need opportunities to develop lessons integrating technology prior to their field experiences.